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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

When Stepparenting Isn't What You Expected

I have a cracked tooth. I went to the dentist this morning and heard some unexpected news. Because it's one of my front teeth and it has small cracks throughout the tooth, I was told I will eventually need to crown the tooth or consider veneers.

Instead of a simple filling to fix the tooth, I have to consider a completely different alternative - not a bad solution, just different (and much more expensive!) than what I anticipated.

The scenario reminded me of a poem my sister (stepmom of  three) mentioned to me recently. It was actually written for parents of autistic children, but is just as applicable for stepparents.

It illustrates the point that when we find ourselves in a situation that's different than what we want, we can learn to appreciate the good about it or spend our time regretting what we wish we had.

If we're constantly comparing our family to those around us in traditional families, we will never learn to appreciate the value and uniqueness of our stepfamily.

I hope you enjoy the poem as much as I have.

Welcome to Holland

When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip – to Italy. You buy a bunch of guidebooks and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum, the Michelangelo David, the gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting.

After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland."

"Holland?!" you say. "What do you mean, Holland?" I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy.

But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay.

The important thing is that they haven't taken you to some horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place.

So you must go out and buy a new guidebook. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.

It's just a different place. It's slower paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around, and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills, Holland has tulips, Holland even has Rembrandts.

But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy, and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life you will say, "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned."

The pain of that will never, ever, go away, because the loss of that dream is a very significant loss.

But if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things about Holland.

Written by Emily Perl Kingsley

Can you learn to appreciate Holland or are you stuck in regret about Italy?

Related Posts:

Overcoming Difficult Feelings as a Stepparent

Is it a Privilege to be a Stepparent?

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At May 24, 2011 at 2:28 PM , Blogger Yours Truly said...

Very beautifully written.

At May 24, 2011 at 2:31 PM , Anonymous Sue said...

Oh, how I wish I had found you when I was a new stepparent! I may not always comment, but I read your blog regularly, and I appreciate your wisdom and sage advice.

I struggled a lot in the beginning because I thought we could be like a traditional family. I didn't know any different, so that expectation seemed normal. My husband had the same struggle, and so did my family. They were ready to welcome all with arms wide open when my husband and I got married, and they felt left out, then hurt and finally resentful when the older kids didn't want anything to do with them (and still don't).

I know we made a lot of mistakes and didn't do things the way the experts said we should have, but I hope my step-kids always know how much I love them and know that any mistakes that we made were made honestly and with their best interests at heart.

At May 29, 2011 at 4:46 PM , Blogger Step Parenting with Grace said...

Yours truly, thank you for your comment.

Sue, We also tried to act like a traditional family in the beginning and we failed miserably. We finally learned it was okay to be different. I know you do a great job with your step-kids,even if they don't recognize it. Affirm your value and keep growing those relationships!



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